Home > Turbulence(12)

Turbulence(12)
Author: Whitney G.

My brother and all my sisters were valedictorians of their respective high school classes; I was salutatorian. Each of them handily won every single science fair they ever entered; I received honorable mentions. And all of them, just like my world-renowned neurosurgeon parents, accepted scholarships to MIT; I never considered it as an option. I agreed to an early acceptance to Boston University instead.

Our family dinners and get-togethers throughout the years were all marked with praise for all of their endless achievements and a “Well, Gillian is...being Gillian,” when it came to me.

I wasn’t sure why they even tried to invite me home anymore, especially since I’d done everything possible to avoid going back. If I could stay away until I was eighty years old, I was going to give it a try.

I’m definitely not going home for that proposal...

The car came to a sudden, jerky stop and I looked ahead through the windshield. Several police cars were flashing their blue and white lights, and an ambulance was speeding down the emergency lane.

Since it looked as if it was going to take even longer to get to Manhattan, I leaned against the window and drifted to sleep.

***

An hour later, I woke up to see the car coasting its way down Broadway, still blocks away from the Woolworth Building.

There were three new texts from Ben on my phone, all concerned with appearances, not me.

Ben: If the Uber car you’re in isn’t a luxury car, tell him to drop you off at the back entrance so you won’t look like a caterer or something.

Ben: The senator and his wife just arrived, so it’s settled. My girlfriend can’t be seen getting out of anything less than a luxury car.

Ben: Please tell me you’re wearing one of the dresses your roommate bought for you. One of the designer ones.

I rolled my eyes as the car pulled in front of the building, not caring anything about his ridiculous requests. From what I could see, the only people standing outside were valets and doormen, and the luxury cars and limousines were long abandoned.

I handed the driver a five and stepped out, holding my umbrella over my head as I walked up the steps to two waiting doormen.

In unison, they uttered, “Good evening,” and opened the doors, letting me inside a glittering, gold lobby. To my surprise, the grand space was completely empty.

Before I could ask where I was supposed to go, a white-suited bellman stepped off the elevator and motioned for me to step inside.

“You’re the girlfriend of Ben Walsh, correct?” he asked.

“Supposedly. Depends on what day of the week it is.”

He laughed and hit the button for the top floor. “I’d say it’s more than ‘supposedly.’ He’s asked me about your arrival six times tonight. Described you to a T.”

“How so?”

“I’ll quote him verbatim,” he said. “Beautiful woman with long, wavy black hair and the prettiest set of emerald green eyes you’ll ever see. That’s how I knew it was you.”

I blushed, feeling somewhat guilty for being so upset with Ben. “Thank you. I’ll tell him how sweet that is.”

He nodded and faced the front, watching the lights above the doors flash as we passed every floor. When it reached ‘57’, the doors suddenly slid open, letting in the blinding flashes of photographers.

“Anyone famous?” Someone yelled as the cameras clicked consistently. “Is she somebody?”

“We’ll figure it out later. Just get the shot!”

Holding my hand over my eyes, I moved out of their line of fire and into the ballroom’s main event, the re-launch of Cosmopolitan magazine.

The room was drenched in beautiful silver and white decorations, and previous covers of the magazine were standing atop mini stages throughout the space. Waiters weaved through the guests with champagne trays held high, and almost all of New York’s elite were putting on perfect smiles for the press. Dressed in thousand dollar gowns and impeccably tailored suits, their astonishing wealth could be sensed from miles away. These were the type of people who looked for any occasion to show it off, the type of people who would show up to the opening of a gift bag if it meant there was a chance their face would make it into the papers.

I smiled as I moved through the guests, saying hello to a few familiar faces as I searched for Ben. After several minutes of looking, I sent him a quick “Where are you?” text, but he never responded.

Knowing that he was probably posing for endless pictures with local celebrities, I grabbed a glass of champagne from a waiter’s tray and walked toward the windows that faced the Brooklyn Bridge.

I was halfway there when his parents, Mrs. Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan and Mr. Wolf of Wall Street, stepped in front of me. As usual, his mother’s red hair was perfectly curled and coifed, her dress a slimming shade of blue that complemented her eyes. And his brooding father, with his copper-colored hair and dark brown eyes, looked as if he’d just stepped off the set of a political drama. Ben was a clear, carbon copy.

“Good evening, Gillian.” His mother extended her perfectly manicured hand. “You look rather radiant tonight.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Walsh.”

“My pleasure. Ben was just circling the room looking for you. Have you seen him?”

“Not yet.”

“You’ll run into him eventually, I’m sure.” His father shook my hand. “He told me you were secretly interested in applying to work at my firm. Is that true, Gillian?”

   
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